Thousands of people were in the park. The countdown began for us to release the balloons. We huddled together and when the countdown ended we all let go. All the red balloons with their messages attached floating off into the distance. We watched with wide eyes squinting from the sun, for what seemed like hours. Everyone slowly drifted off and eventually the park was empty again.
Whenever the postman came we would rush to find out if someone had returned our card. The anticipation and excitement that someone had found them. Like throwing out a message in a bottle or shouting out into space hoping that someone would hear you and call back.
We do this every day; reach out to be found. Try to connect, to fall in love, to have hope. We have to take a leap sometimes don't we?
I imagined a girl my age in a faraway land would find my balloon and we would become pen pals and great friends. This was the days before the internet and instant communication. When people wrote letters. I remember spending hours writing to my friends at school. Filling them with reams of important information that couldn't possibly wait till the next day (or hadn't been covered in the hour phone call we just had). Such as; what had happened in Neighbours, what I had eaten for tea, how really really annoying that boy Mark was, and how I wouldn't go out with him even if he asked me anyway so there! Then I would carefully decorate them with hearts and flowers, and maybe a few stickers from my precious collection. Best friends forever!
The Great Balloon Race was captured in an artwork a year or 2 later. A massive 12 by 4 metre montage of moments and icons from the time and place. I remember the day I saw it for the first time. It was at the top of the large winding staircase on the white back wall of the town library. The scene of the red balloons floating off into a blue Summer sky, the rippling reflections of water and clouds on the mirrored city walls. The modern, trendy characters. A boy in a white T-shirt and dark glasses and a girl with bleached denim jeans and punky hair. The grown ups I couldn't wait to be.
I felt a sadness and gratitude. I was taken back to the moment. My family were still all together. There had been no loss. We were protected from the realities and sadnesses of life that were yet to come.
I returned every day for a week. Drank my coffee, checked my emails and then just sat. A meditative peace. Although I am now far away I return there often in my mind.
At the time it was just a fun day out. You never know which will be the moments you hold on to throughout your life. The ones that will give you hope and make you feel safe, and that will encourage you to go out and be in the world. To dare to reach out.
This story is also featured on:
|#FlashBackFriday with Cathy|
Thanks for stopping by. You can say bonjour and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Bloglovin too and sign up to our newsletter here. We look forward to welcoming you soon at De Tout Coeur Limousin.